Words by Anthony Barbetta
With the recent beta launches of Battlefield: Hardline and Destiny, gamers are being granted early access to experience two of the holiday’s biggest blockbusters. This season will see a number of heavy hitters hit the retail shelves, all huge titles we’re all thirsting to play in advance. Of course, with so many scheduled for release, only a small number of titles are proving to be well deserving of a beta based on E3 impressions and fan fare. Narrowing down the selection isn’t easy, but we know exactly what the gaming community is eying at the moment. Cross your fingers and look over the 8 Holiday Video Games That Deserve Betas.
Staying on-guard and ready to protect at all times seems to be an overdone model most first-person shooters suffer from. Evolve on the other hand looks to break the mold in its own unique ways, which already make it a top contender for a holiday blockbuster. The 2K-published game is a co-op shooter that takes places on a strange planet called Planet Shear. The story centers on mankind colonizing other planets, but once they get to Planet Shear it becomes a fight to stay alive against an alien that continually attacks the colony. Unlike other co-op titles, while four players are present on the hunting grounds, a fifth player is actually controlling the monster—creating a more difficult challenge to target the adversary. The monster has the ability to (what else) evolve by eating smaller creatures, gaining new abilities as it does. All four hunters will boast different playing styles that cater towards specific roles during any one mission. Getting a hands-on before launch would allow the selected crowd to understand how the monster and humans work in terms of gameplay, plus gives them time to strategize and run the difficult courses with each other.
Forza Horizon 2
Microsoft is promising high-octane racing action on its exclusive Xbox One title. Taking place once again during the Horizon Festival, the game will be held in southern Europe on France and Italy. The virtual world is said to be roughly about three times the size of the original Forza Horizon, where as the “Bucket List” function offers up a new group of players to race against. There’s also a new day and night system that creates a more realistic presence to the game. Another addition is the weather system, which also affects how the player can control their car by having the track become slick or dry out. Everyone wants an chance of testing out the cars and racetracks early, for the purpose of gaining a vantage point when immediately jumping online.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
RPG fans are anticipating the latest installment in the Dragon Age series. Once again, players have the luxury of choosing between male and female characters, along with a variety of races. However, the combat has evolved, focusing more on the tactical approaches instead of typical button mashing. Getting familiarized with the new system gives gamers a chance to experience a smoother transition when Inquisition launches. Customization has also been expanded based on the equipment-changing aesthetics and the size of the party member wearing it. With these changes and a few others coming down the pipe, it’s sure to bring a fresh take to the franchise.
Super Smash Bros. 3DS/Wii U
The Super Smash Bros. series has always been a staple for the holiday season since its inception on the N64. Over a decade later, Nintendo is making the smart decision to bring the latest installment multi-platform, finally making its way onto the 3DS, while appearing on the Wii U. This time around, the company is adding a new free-run mode called Smash Run that will be exclusive to the 3DS version. Each port has its own unique stages, trophies, and graphics that play to the system’s strengths with the 3DS version using stereoscopic 3D and optional cell shading, where as the Wii U showcases high-definition graphics. A beta would let players receive some much appreciated early practice with some of the brand new characters–strategizing how to use them, as well as master the inner workings of several stages.
Far Cry 4
From the innovative gameplay to its wild storylines, the Far Cry series remains one of the trippiest shooters out there. The fourth game will revolve around Ajay Ghale, who returns home only get caught up in civil war on his way to spread his mother’s ashes. Playing through some of the adventure mode quests would be a treat for most, learning how to clear the single-player campaign fast, jumping on multiplayer ASAP. The open-world aspect has also been updated since Far Cry 3, so that it feels more immersive than before. Bizarreness alone makes us want to test it out early.
Like Madden conformists, every diehard NBA 2K fan waits every year to get their hands on the latest version of the definitive basketball game series. One can only image how insane the crowd would be if 2K offered up a beta. The developers made some upgrades to the game once again. On-court players will now mimic their real-life counterparts and move in a number of formations, rather than just run in zig-zag motions like previous games. The AI moves more fluidly along the court to try and stop the player from advancing to the basket. Another sweet addition is the inclusion of 25 different Euro league teams, which adds more diversity to the 2K universe. Overall, the game ups the ante and is ready to set the bar for future sports titles.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Taking place between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings timelines, this action RPG is set to showcase some gorgeous graphics and gameplay designs. It will utilize the nemesis system, which retains info on how players interact with certain NPCs and adjusts the options they can take with those same types of NPCs. Each player has two separate skill trees to choose from, each boasting their own abilities and styles that add more uniqueness to the character with each level-up. With a dark tale of a ranger turned wraith who seeks revenge against Mordor, gamers are set to experience other intriguing characters and environments from the fantasy series, something most fans want in on before the game’s October 7th release.
The third installment of the addictive LittleBigPlanet series comes with some mighty big changes for our little hero Sackboy. Beside the rag-like protagonist, there are now four new characters, each with their own interesting abilities to help man the terrain. Oddsock is a dog-like sack creature that is not only faster than the others and can Wall-Jump, where as Big Toggle is much heavier and stronger character. Two more characters will be made available as well. Add in some new power-ups like the ‘Pumpinator’, which blows air to get lightweight objects out of the way and you have a recipe for a wacky and fun new time. With 16 layers of fun to be used in player-created levels and enhanced graphics, LBP3 seems to be a little slice of awesome. Getting a chance to try out each new tool, item, and character in advance would definitely give the PS4 an edge going into the holidays, especially if they get to save stages already built.
Update: Wish granted, as Media Molecule recently confirmed a public beta was on the way.